Ask any old-school auto mechanic and they’ll tell you the safety system on a car most prone to failure is “the nut behind the wheel.” At the risk of appearing to engage in victim blaming, most auto accidents do come back to some form of driver error. In addition to putting your life in danger, poor driving habits also come into play when you compare car insurance. Hint: Rates get higher. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five behind-the-scenes factors in many car accidents.
As far back as 2006 researchers found cell phone use and driving cars are a bad combination. In fact, many researchers say driving and talking or texting is just as bad as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When your car is moving 60 miles per hour, you’re covering the distance of 17 football fields (that’s 100 yards each) every minute. That “one second” you look down to take a call or answer a text becomes a lot more significant when you think of it in those terms.
All Other Distractions
By the way, any similar distraction can have tragic consequences; this includes eating, reading (yes, we’ve seen people on the freeway reading iPads, books, magazines and newspapers while driving!), grooming and applying makeup. Anything in the car diverting your attention from the road is a hazard. Every second your eyes are focused someplace other than where the car is going is a second your life is in danger.
Driving Under the Influence
Buzzed driving is drunk driving—period. Every time you slip behind the wheel of a car with any amount of an intoxicating substance in your system, you’re putting yourself and every other person you’ll encounter at risk. There really is no such thing as “just one.” Intoxicants slow your perceptions and your reflexes, both of which you need in abundance when you’re in control of a 4,000 pound mechanical object hurtling along at a mile a minute.
Violating Traffic Laws
Speeding, running stop signs and red lights, changing lanes suddenly and too frequently, tailgating, improper turns, driving the wrong way on a one-way street; pretty much every traffic law in existence was mandated by a tragic situation. Somebody got killed or badly injured and legislators realized the activity leading to the tragedy should be illegal. When you break traffic laws, you’re taking your life and others’ into your own hands.
While it’s tempting to blame Mother Nature here, the reality is many accidents in inclement weather can be traced back to driver error as well. The number one cause is driving too fast for conditions. Heavy rain and/or snowfall mean the roadway is slippery and visibility is reduced. So why do so many people keep driving as if it’s 72 degrees and sunny? Similarly, we’ve all seen footage of multi-car pileups in fog, because drivers kept speeding along, even though they could barely see five feet ahead. And believe this: Anything you see five feet directly in front of your car at 60 miles per hour is about to get hit.
Bottom line, when it comes to examining what causes car accidents, the main behind-the-scenes factor to consider is the driver’s mental attitude. We are not infallible, nor are we invulnerable. If protecting your life isn’t enough to get you to consider changing your behavior, compare car insurance quotes with an accident or two on your record. Maybe the potential hit to your pocketbook will help you drive more carefully.
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